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Francis Ford Coppola DIRECTOR


Francis Ford Coppola is a true American Renaissance man, identifying as a top Hollywood director, screenwriter, and producer. He is, still today, known as one of America’s most unpredictable, vivacious, and controversial filmmakers. In the 1970s, he was arguably the greatest of a new era of filmmakers – called The Turks – that included other celebrated icons like George Lucas, Brian De Palma, William Friedkin, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg. While he has made far more failures than successes, his winners have been true masterpieces and far outweigh his tragedies. The revenue his hits have brought him has put him at the top, also earning him fourteen Academy Award nominations and five Oscars. Additionally, three of his films are featured on the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films: “The Godfather: Part II” at spot 32, “Apocalypse Now” in position 28, and “The Godfather” at number 3. He remains forever a true Hollywood legend.

Coppola was born on April 7, 1946 in Detroit, Michigan to composer and musician Carmine Coppola. Shortly after his birth his family settled down in Queens, New York, where he grew up. At age nine, he came down with the crippling disease Polio, which forced him to be bed stricken for a year. During that year, he learned to entertain himself by fabricating puppet shows and becoming engrossed with television, basically losing himself in a fantasy world. One he returned to normal health, he started producing 8mm home movies and writing his own plays. Upon graduation from Great Neck High School, Coppola entered Hofsta University on a playwright scholarship, where he acquired a bachelor’s degree in drama. Next, in 1960 he moved to the West Coast to attend the film school at UCLA. While here, he entered the film industry, making some short films and some mild pornography like “Tonight For Sure” (1962). In the late 1960s he assisted Roger Corman with a number of his lower-budgeted but worthwhile pictures. In 1963, Coppola was prompted by his mentor to create his own movie. Thus, he wrote and directed the gory horror flick “Dementia 13” (1963). While shooting the film in Ireland, he found love. He and Eleanor Neil wed in Las Vegas in 1963 and are still married.

For his thesis to obtain a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Los Angeles, Coppola directed “You’re a Big Boy Now” (1966). Warner Brothers decided to release it into theaters, and it brought the director some critical acclaim. He was then offered the directing position for the motion picture adaptation of the Broadway musical “Finian’s Rainbow” (1968), boasting Petula Clark and Fred Astaire. He followed the feature up with an original work, “The Rain People” (1969), and it became the grand prize winner at the 1970 San Sebastian International Film Festival. In 1969 he also formed an independent film production company, American Zoetrope, with George Lucas. The next year, he won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for “Patton” (1970), which he co-wrote with Edmund H. North.

After Zoetrope’s first offering, Lucas’ ultramodern “THX-1138” (1971), Coppola went into major debt because the film was turned down by Warner Brothers. His luck turned around, though, when Paramount asked him to collaborate with author Mario Puzo on The Godfather Trilogy. The first of the series, “The Godfather” (1972), became one of the highest grossing movies ever and nabbed the two an Academy Award for Best Screenplay. Coppola happily no longer owed any money after the picture was released. He next launched George Lucas’ career by producing “American Graffiti” (1973), which was nominated for a number of Oscars. Following, he wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” (1974). He then worked on his powerful “The Conversation” (1974), the riveting political drama about secret government surveillance, which was greatly influenced by his fascination with gadgets. It was a hit and received several Oscar nominations. Also in 1974, “The Godfather: Part II” was released and fared even better than the first, becoming the most successful sequel in history. It won a total of six Academy Awards, Coppola earning three. The director/writer/producer followed up the hit with another homerun in 1979. “Apocalypse Now” (1979) was a riveting retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Edge of Darkness, a tale about the Vietnam War. However, the production was compromised extensively by budget issues, horrible weather, and strange behavior from its star, Marlon Brando. Nevertheless, it was hailed as a masterpiece, held its own at the box office, and gained multiple Oscar nominations.

Coppola’s fame started to dissipate after the latter, and as the eighties rolled by he began turning out less successful work. He directed the musical “One from the Heart” (1980), a financial disaster which forced him to spend the remainder of the decade working off his debt. In 1983 he directed the teenage novel-based films “The Outsiders” and “Rumble Fish”, but they were overly criticized. However, they did feature up-and-coming actors like Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Nicolas Cage, and Tom Cruise. Still, his lack of success forced him to sell his cherished Zoetrope Studio. His luck continued to diminish when he released the Harlem jazz club based “The Cotton Club” (1984). He found some redemption when he was hired to direct “Peggy Sue Got Married” (1986), the 1960's themed comedy that starred his nephew, Nicolas Cage. Following his success, he quickly jumped to direct and produce the Vietnam War era drama “Gardens of Stone” (1987), which blew out any spark of hope he had to make a comeback. Sadly his fortune even further decreased, for his son, Gio, died the same year in a boating accident.

Slightly more impressive, “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” (1988), focused on an idea Coppola had been thinking up since the 1970's, and even paralleled the famous auto-industry visionary Preston Tucker to the director himself. In 1990, he released the final chapter of The Godfather saga. While “The Godfather: Part III” (1990) was not as praised as its two predecessors, it showed the director still had talent. His “Dracula” (1992), however, had mixed reviews, but still put him in good light and secured his finances. Coppola next directed the Robin Williams comedy “Jack” (1996) and “The Rainmaker” (1997), based off John Grisham’s novel. He took a ten year break from directing, although he produced a number of films like “The Virgin Suicides” (1999), “Jeepers Creepers” (2001), “Pumpkin” (2002), “Kinsey” (2004), “Marie Antoinette” (2006), and “Youth Without Youth” (2007). His directing and screen writing return began with “Youth Without Youth” (2007), and he has since then directed, written, and produced “Tetro” (2009) and “Twixt Now and Sunrise” (2011), although his most recent production job was on “On the Road” (2011).

When not directing/writing/producing films, Coppola gives political contributions to Democratic Party candidates, runs a restaurant called Café Zoetrope in his current home of San Francisco, owns his own lifestyle merchandise company, spends time in Buenos Aires, Argentina establishing a subsidiary of his production company, and manufactures wine from his vineyard and sells it through his wine company. For his involvement however in the film industry, Coppola has been awarded with over thirty different honors from various festivals and institutes, and has also been nominated for over thirty awards from these types of organizations. He also ranked #4 in the directors’ top ten directors of all time and #10 for critics’ top ten directors of all time in a 2002 publication of Sound and Sight. His legacy will probably live on forever, especially since he has at least thirteen other Coppola family members in show business spanning over thirteen generations. We can be certain, though, that his creative genius has touched those who have seen his masterpieces, and although his erratic filmmaking proved messy, he still managed to put out some excellent hits. Coppola most importantly spoke his words true, as he once said “If you don’t bet, you don’t have a chance to win.”  

2011       On the Road 

2011       Twixt Now and Sunrise

2010       Somewhere 

2009       Tetro 

2007       Youth Without Youth 

2006       The Good Shepherd

2006       Marie Antoinette 

2004       Forever Is a Long, Long Time

2004       Kinsey 

1982       One from the Heart 

2003       Lost in Translation 

2003       Jeepers Creepers II 

2003       Platinum 

2002       Assassination Tango 

2002       Pumpkin

2002       In My Life 

2001       Francis Ford Coppola Presents: The Legend of Suriyothai 

2001       Jeepers Creepers

2001       No Such Thing

2001       CQ 

2000       Supernova   

2000       Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 

1999       Sleepy Hollow 

1999       Goosed 

1999       The Third Miracle 

1999       The Virgin Suicides

1999       The Florentine

1998       First Wave

1998       Lanai-Loa 

1998       Moby Dick 

1998       Outrage 

1997       The Rainmaker

1997       Buddy 

1997       The Odyssey 

1997       Survival on the Mountain 

1996       Dark Angel 

1996       Jack 

1995       Kidnapped 

1995       Haunted 

1995       Tecumseh: The Last Warrior 

1995       White Dwarf

1995       My Family 

1994       Frankenstein 

1994       Don Juan DeMarco 

1993       The Secret Garden 

1993       The Junky's Christmas

1992       Making 'Bram Stoker's Dracula

1992       Dracula 

1992       Wind 

1992       The Godfather Trilogy: 1901-1980 

1990       The Godfather: Part III 

1990       The Outsiders 

1989       New York Stories 

1989       Wait Until Spring, Bandini 

1988       Powaqqatsi 

1988       Tucker: The Man and His Dream 

1987       Gardens of Stone 

1987       Faerie Tale Theatre

1987       Lionheart: The Children's Crusade

1987       Tough Guys Don't Dance   

1986       Peggy Sue Got Married

1986       Captain EO 

1985       Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters  

1984       The Cotton Club

1983       Rumble Fish

1983       The Black Stallion Returns 

1983       The Outsiders

1982       One from the Heart

1982       Hammett 

1982       The Escape Artist

1982       Koyaanisqatsi 

1980       Kagemusha

1979       The Black Stallion 

1979       Apocalypse Now 

1977       The Godfather: A Novel for Television 

1974       The Godfather: Part II 

1974       The Great Gatsby

1974       The Conversation 

1973       The Way We Were

1973       American Graffiti

1972       The People  

1972       The Godfather 

1971       THX 1138  

1970       Patton

1969       The Making of 'The Rain People'  

1969       The Rain People 

1968       Finian's Rainbow 

1966       Is Paris Burning

1966       You're a Big Boy Now

1966       This Property is Condemned

1963       The Haunted Palace

1963       The Terror 

1963       Dementia 13

1962       Tonight for Sure  

1962       The Bellboy and the Playgirls 

1962       Battle Beyond the Sun    

Matinee Classics - The Quiet Man starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond, Victor McLaglen, Mildred Natwick and Francis Ford and filmed in Ireland
Matinee Classics - Dementia 13 starring William Campbell, Luana Anders, Patrick Magee, Bart Patton, Mary Mitchell, Eithne Dunne, Peter Read and Karl Schanzer
Matinee Classics - The Outsiders starring C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Emelio Estevez, Tom Cruise, Glenn Withrow, Diane Lane, Leif Garrett, Darren Dalton, Michelle Meyrink, Tom Waits, Gailard Sartain, S. E. Hinton and William Smith
Matinee Classics - The Godfather starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard S. Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, Al Lettieri, Diane Keaton, Abe Vigoda, Talia Shire, Gianni Russo, John Cazale and Rudy Bond

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